For Immediate Release: 08/13/19

Contact:
John Callaghan | jcallaghan@hrbrrd.com | (518) 912-3986

BLACK RIVER REGULATING DISTRICT TURNS 100

Water Regulation Body Incorporated August 14, 2019; First Board Meeting Held September 20, 1919

 Regulating District Hosting Open House at Stillwater Reservoir on Saturday

 WATERTOWN – The Hudson River – Black River Regulating District (HRBRRD) is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the Black River Regulating District on August 14, 2019.

Following a petition for the Regulating District’s formation which was published on February 19, 1919, the Black River Regulating District was statutorily established in May, 1919, and officially incorporated 100 years ago today on August 14, 1919.

On September 6, 1919 Governor Alfred E. Smith appointed the first Board of the Black River Regulating District: J. Victor Baron, president of the Sherman Paper company, John Byron Taylor of Northern New York Utilities, and James A. Outterson of the De Grasse Paper company. The first meeting of the board was held on September 20, 1919 at Taggarts Paper Company in the City of Watertown, NY.

Formed to meet an urgent need on the Black River to improve drinking water, sanitation, regulate flooding, improve navigation, and maximize hydroelectric power capabilities, it was the first river regulating district to be created in the state under the provisions of the Machold Storage Act passed by the legislature in 1915. A second, the Hudson River Regulating District, was formed in 1922.  The two boards were combined in 1959 by the New York State Legislature to create the HRBRRD.

“We are committed to continuing the important mission begun by our predecessors 100 years ago on behalf of New Yorkers,” Mark Finkle, Chair of the HRBRRD, said.  “A century later, the flood protection and flow augmentation benefits which are inherent to the Regulating District’s operations in the Black River Area remain as important as ever.”

John Callaghan, Executive Director of the HRBRRD, said, “After a century of operations, we look forward to playing an integral role in supporting the production of clean, renewable hydroelectric power, providing flood protection and ecological benefits, and enhancing recreation along the Black River and its tributaries for the next 100 years.”

The HRBRRD will host an open house at its Stillwater Dam facility from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday, August 17 to acquaint members of the public and visitors with its mission and operations.  The HRBRRD Board will meet in Watertown on September 10, 2019 and will observe the 100th anniversary of the inaugural meeting.

The Black River Regulating District (BRRD) was the first regulating district in the state, having been established by the State Legislature in May, 1919 and incorporated on August 14, 1919. On September 6 of the same year Governor Alfred E. Smith appointed the first board, with the first board meeting held on September 20. Edwin S. Cullings was appointed Secretary to the Board and Chief Engineer on December 24, 1919.

After years of work surveying in the Black River watershed, the General Plan for the Regulation of the Flow of the Black River and Certain of its Tributaries was adopted by the BRRD Board on March 22, 1920, and approved by the Conservation Commission April 20, 1920.

The BRRD held public hearings on its first major project in 1921, the enlargement of the Stillwater Dam. In 1923 the contract was awarded to Scott Brothers of Rochester in the amount of $226,131, and construction began in 1924. The gates on the enlarged dam were closed on February 11, 1925, and were then opened for the first release of water on May 6, 1925.

In 1924 under the direction of Black River Regulating District Chief Engineer Edwin S. Cullings, work began on raising the existing dam on the Beaver River at Stillwater Reservoir by 19 feet, increasing the storage capacity from 9 million cubic feet to 4.5 billion cubic feet. Over 3,500 acres of land were cleared in the process, along with the relocation of approximately a mile and a half of railroad track. The Regulating District owns and operates several other dams in the Black River watershed, including Old Forge, Sixth Lake, and Hawkinsville.